The jury ended its first day of deliberations in the prosecution of Paul Manafort in the Eastern District of Virginia. When this trial is over, Manafort faces a second trial on other charges in federal court in D.C.

The jury asked the judge for help understanding “reasonable doubt.” As is usual in these situations, the judge didn’t give much help, explaining that reasonable doubt was “doubt based on reason” but did not require “guilt beyond all possible doubt.”

That the jury would ask such a question probably heartened Manafort’s team, but I wouldn’t read too much into it.

Paul Manafort is a shady character. He may even be a criminal character.

But he undoubtedly is someone who is being prosecuted because of who he knew. That would be one Donald Trump.

Had Manafort not made the decision to join the Trump campaign, tasked with managing the delegate floor fight at the Republican National Convention, Manafort would be leading his prior life of flim flam and influence peddling.

Had Manafort not been associated with the Trump campaign, he would not have been prosecuted. The feds had looked him over and then looked away years earlier.

Manafort’s team made that argument in closing argument coming close to if not exceeding the judge’s prior order barring a defense of selective prosecution:

It was “not until the special counsel showed up and started asking questions” that anyone seemed concerned about Manafort’s dealings with banks, Westling said, noting that none of the banks involved reported the alleged frauds to the authorities.

As a legal defense, selective prosecution may not hold much water. But in reality, this case is all about selective prosecution, and then some.

The prosecution of Manafort is one cog in a big wheel seeking to nullify the 2016 election.

The case against Manafort was resurrected by Special Counsel Robert Muller and his team to put pressure on Manafort, in the words of presiding Judge Ellis earlier in the case, to sing or to compose against Trump.

“You don’t really care about Mr. Manafort’s bank fraud,” Judge T.S. Ellis III said during a morning hearing. “You really care about getting information Mr. Manafort can give you that would reflect on Mr. Trump and lead to his prosecution or impeachment.”

* * *

Even though the investigation was really done by the Justice Department, handed to you, and then you’re now using it, as I indicated before, as a means of persuading Mr. Manafort to provide information.

It’s vernacular by the way. I’ve been here a long time. The vernacular is to sing. That’s what prosecutors use, but what you’ve got to be careful of is they may not just sing. They may also compose. I can see a few veteran defense counsel here, and they have spent a good deal of time in this courtroom trying to persuade a jury that there wasn’t singing, there was composing going on.

Manafort hasn’t sung. Maybe he doesn’t have anything to sing about when it comes to Trump. Or maybe he figures he’ll be pardoned.

I hope he walks. I hope he walks and then dances on the courthouse steps.

And if, as is likely, he gets convicted of something, I hope Trump pardons him.

The prosecution of Manafort is everything that is wrong with the Mueller investigation and team. They found a man, and then they set out to find the crime, in order to get to another man they found and as to whom they are seeking a crime.

That’s not how it’s supposed to happen in a civil society.

The jury has the power to stop this abuse. And so does Donald Trump.


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